Breathing in yoga takes high priority. According to yoga, breath or ‘prana’ is the life force or the primary energy of life. It is the basic life force that controls our life. It is said to be the master form of all energy at every level of being. The breathing exercises in yoga can strengthen our life energy and our health. Practicing yoga can be one of the best ways to keep your lungs and body healthy.
The daily practice of yoga can help in strengthening the muscles of the chest, increase lung capacity and boost oxygen intake. Yoga can help in keeping your lungs healthy and strong thereby improving your breathing and oxygen intake. Pranayama and other yogic postures can help in activating the air-cells of the lungs and strengthen the lungs.
Pranayama or yogic breathing involves abdominal, thoracic and clavicular breathing which helps in gaining control of your breath, correct poor breathing habits and increase oxygen intake. The standing asanas can strengthen the back muscles and increase oxygenation and lung capacity. Here are four yoga poses you can try to improve the health and functioning of your lungs.
Trikonasana / Triangle Pose
Trikonasana allows for the easier passage of air to the lungs and helps to open and expand the chest cavity. The twisting of the body in Trikonasana helps to massage the internal organs which in turn enhances their ability to get rid of toxins and ensure their proper functioning.
Steps to do:
- Stand straight placing your legs three feet apart.
- Place your right foot at 90 degrees and the left foot at 15 degrees.
- Align the center of your right heel with the center of the arch of the left foot.
- Ensure that your feet are pressing the ground, and the weight of your body is balanced equally on both feet.
- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, bend your body to the right from below your hips, lift your left hand up and touch the ground with your right hand. Make sure that both your arms are in a straight line.
- Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or outside the right foot on the floor depending on your comfort.
- Your body must be bent sideways. Your chest and pelvis have to be wide open.
- Stretch to the fullest, and focus more on stabilizing your body.
- Inhale and come up. Drop your arms to your side and straighten your feet.
- Repeat the same using the left leg.
Matsyasana / Fish Pose
Matsyasana can help in balancing and distributing oxygen by enhancing blood circulation and stimulate deep respirations by stretching the lungs. The pose encourages deep breathing thus providing relief from respiratory disorders. It also helps to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.
Steps to do:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and knees flat.
- Lift your hips slightly and slide your hands under your hips.
- Inhale, bend your elbows and push your upper body.
- Keeping the chest elevated, lower your head backward.
- Maintain the pose as long as comfortably can, breathing in and out.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama / Alternate Nostril Breathing
Practicing Nadishodhan pranayama can release accumulated stress and help the body to relax. It's proved to be therapeutic for most respiratory problems and to improve lung function in asthma patients. This is one of the best for patients with breathing trouble.
Steps to do:
- Sit comfortably with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your left hand on the left knee, and palms open to the sky.
- Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows, the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril.
- Use your right thumb to close the right nostril and exhale gently through the left nostril.
- Now keeping the right nostril closed inhale through the left nostril and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out from the right.
- Breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils.
Ardha Matsyendrasana / Sitting Half Spinal Twist
Ardha matsyendrasana can open up the chest thereby increasing the supply of oxygen to the lungs. The pose induces the abdominal breathing that enhances the lungs functioning. It also helps to relieve stress and tension trapped in the back.
Steps to do:
- Sit straight with your legs stretched out and feet together.
- Bend your right leg. Bring your left foot around the right knee corner and take your left hand back.
- Stretch your right arm up and push your knee back using your elbow and hold your right foot. Place the right hand behind you, and the left hand on the right knee.
- Look back over your left shoulder. Make sure your spine is erect.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, breathe slowly, yet deeply.
Healthy lungs form an integral part of breathing. With yoga poses, we can rectify all the problems and disorders related to lungs, and strengthen our lungs.